At the moment we are on our way to Tromsø, where our Arctic adventure finally ends. Here, we would like to give you the opportunity to get an insight in the life on board RV Polarstern as an ArcTrain student.
07:00… Alarm rings. Press the snooze button. Get up ten minutes later. Take a shower – get ready for this day. Check the station schedule – Polarstern will be on station at 8 am.
07:30… It is breakfast time! There are too many choices! Pancakes? Scrambled eggs? Cereals? Eat and get ready for the upcoming station.
08:00… Polarstern is on station: Everybody gets ready – Scientists and crew. The heavy gear will be deployed at 1420 m water depth. Planned station schedule:
08:00: Hand Net
08:05: Box Corer
09:15: Multi Corer
10:45: Gravity Corer
At this station biological and geological samples are taken. Arctic algae and phytoplankton are caught with the Hand Net in the upper water column. During this so-called GEO station the different coring devices are used to retrieve sediment of up to 10 m core length. For each gear the sampling starts immediately after the recovery on deck. Every helping hand is welcome. In between the scientific meeting takes place at 8:30. The preceding day and the today’s station plan are discussed. The meeting finishes with the weather report from the meteorologist of the German Weather Service. While most of the scientists are involved in the “slaughtering” of the different cores, the helicopter starts off to observe the ice condition along the planned ship track. Two scientists are allowed to accompany the heli crew. It is a great opportunity. No polar bear is seen but lots of floating ice and the Polarstern from above.
11:30… Tummy starts to grumble. It is lunch time! Eat rather quickly to help with the recovery of the Gravity Corer.
12:00… End of station. All gear is on deck. Polarstern is on its way to the next station which is 22 nm away. There, it is planned to take both biological, geological, and sea water samples. It will be a “complete” station with almost all scientists involved. During the transit the core sampling is in progress, the biological diversity of the hand net samples is analyzed with the microscope. Preparation of the next station starts: Labeling of sampling containers, cleaning of deck and gear. Furthermore, the sea floor and the uppermost sediment layers are mapped along the cruise track using the Parasound and Hydrosweep systems.
15:30… It is coffee time! Have a quick coffee and grab a piece of cake before we reach the station 30 minutes later. Planned station schedule:
17:15: Multi Net
17:15: Hand Net
18:15: Box Corer
19:30: Multi Corer
20:45: Kasten Corer
Temperature and conductivity profiles of the entire water column are measured with the CTD. Thereby also water samples from different water depths are taken. Planktonic foraminifera are collected with the Multi Net, whereby one net after the other is opened, pulled through a certain water mass layer and closed afterwards. This station is also used to collect algae directly at the ice edge as well as sediments incorporated in the sea ice by taking the Zodiac. The scenery is just great. There is an ice berg shaped like a garden gnome.
17:30… It is dinner time. While eating everybody recharges their inner batteries to be prepared for the last sampling. After again using the different coring devices for retrieving sediment from the sea floor the station ends at 22:00. The final sampling is still on going. By 23:00 everything is cleaned and stored away. It was a successful day! Everything worked out as planned. It is time to catch some sleep. Good night! .
04:00… The phone rings. We will be on station in about half an hour. Time to wake up and to get ready for another exciting day. Today is dedicated to physical oceanography: Moorings are going to be recovered. Later we will also deploy Agathe and Bella – two SeaGliders. Once this station is finished and we reach the ice edge the so-called Underway CTD is going to “fly” through the water…
The last three weeks here on board have been a great experience. Besides the hard work we really enjoyed the company of the crew and the other scientists, as well as the surrounding ice floes, polar bears, and the midnight sun.
On behalf of all ArcTrain students we would like to thank Captain Thomas Wunderlich and his crew who helped us in every possible way. Furthermore, we thank our chief scientist Rudy and the other scientists participating in this cruise. Finally, we are grateful for this opportunity to take part in this expedition given by ArcTrain. Good bye! Au revoir! Auf Wiedersehen! Ha det!
by Kerstin Kretschmer and Tilia Breckenfelder